When PBL Encounters the International Baccalaureate

2018-07-02 10:52:33

A month has passed and the DeTao “Future Architecture +” team’s trial class phase for second grade students at the Integrated Department of Shanghai Shangde Experimental School reached a successful conclusion.

Positive review: Primary School UOI of Integrated Department | dancing with artists from the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre

Sparks from the encounter between PBL and IB system

The Integrated Department of Shanghai Shangde Experimental School adopts the IB education system, yet what will appear after the introduction of the PBL courses designed by the DeTao Denis Dessus Studio “Future Architecture +” team remains to be seen.

The Unit of Inquiry (UOI) methodology is one of the highlights in the curriculum at the Integrated Department of Shanghai Shangde Experimental School. Unlike conventional disciplines, by exploring the six main UOI themes of global significance, students are able to acquire knowledge, concepts and skills of the conventional disciplines, and then utilize them with methods that are beyond traditional boundaries. The IB program has always featured and emphasized the spirit of exploration, but many have inquired how this was achieved.

Memory of the first class session remains fresh, as Teacher Mogu from the team brought students on a mysterious “time travel” – allowing the young children to momentarily forget that they were in a classroom, and instead envisage that they were working in a “Future Architectural Firm”.

At this particular moment teachers and students shed their usual responsibilities, taking on the role as designers at the architectural firm where they aimed to meet the requirements of their imaginary client - little rice.

It is in such a way that a wide array of knowledge is incorporated into the course design.

For instance, during the early discussion of the customer’s demands, students needed to understand corresponding designs given their habits, such as water circulation in the city. In this round of discussion, students came to learn about the concept of  a “water-sensitive city”.

The entire curriculum segment researched and developed by the “Future Architecture +” team coincides with the scientific principle of Shangde School’s UOI curriculum, thus the pairing was smooth and straightforward.

Students were then able to respond quickly to questions and an energetic atmosphere filled the class.

The PBL learning model enables teachers to concentrate more on children’s comprehension of problems and knowledge in practice.

For example, children would struggle to memorize relevant knowledge concerning planar and sectional graphs if they were asked to draw on paper in accordance with the traditional teaching model.

Instead, as part of the PBL model course, teachers invited the “young designers” to come on stage, work in groups and use their bodies as points and lines to construct a three-view drawing. Being part of the drawing themselves, it would be hard for them not to remember the knowledge.

Achievement showcase

Whether a student takes the traditional education route or embraces the PBL model, the final outcome is always a vital step.

In the course Ecological City of the Future, through a holistic story arc, teachers have steered and trained students to think in a more logical manner.

Next, students were asked to design their own “wall,” which was an embodiment of architecture. By consolidating “walls” designed by children in the group, a future community space ultimately emerged.

In this activity, the children have to take into consideration the role of different group members, the suitable position of the “walls” of each group member, and how to succinctly connect the whole “community” together.

In the final course report, students were able to apply knowledge obtained from discussion to their final designs. Some children even renovated their respective community by adding futuristic elements in a sci-fi manner.

Achievement showcase

Selected works submitted by students

Summary and after thoughts

Time in the classroom is always limited, but here at DeTao teaching students how to think logically in every facet of daily life is our main pursuit.

The subject of our teaching this time - second grade students in the international class at Shanghai Shangde Experimental School, in general possess wider knowledge than their peers, and several of them have already learned  about course content before. Therefore, with systematic guidance, they were able to adapt to the program quickly and extensively apply what they had learned from PBL.

We also noticed that the expansion of children knowledge hinges upon, to a certain degree, the knowledge base or learning attitude of their parents. If parents are more proactive in obtaining new knowledge, they will subconsciously affect their children for the better. Therefore, the enthusiastic mindset of parents is hugely important to children.

This was our original intention to create the “future sphere” in a hope that parents will not set constrains to themselves and break any “ceiling” in their mind. Parents need to grow in order to foster positive communication in the future, and become free of any generation gap with their children.

For this reason, parents must grow and evolve together with their children, creating an unlimited future, and an unlimited world.